SAN MATEO -- The scouting report on the Serra soccer team was clear: shut down Nick Schnabel and you shut down the Padres.

Turns out, easier said than done.

Despite the defensive attention the senior forward received, Schnabel scored 30 goals with a number of them coming at crucial times as Serra won the first Central Coast Section championship in school history.

A case in point, the CCS Division II championship match against Gilroy. Serra appeared to be headed to a 1-0 defeat and runner-up status when Schnabel scored with four minutes left. He scored again in overtime, a goal that Gilroy countered as the match ended in a 2-2 tie and co-championships.

"For them to be co-champions, it was all Nick Schnabel,'' Gilroy coach Armando Padilla said.

Schnabel, the Mercury News boys soccer player of the year, calls that goal against Gilroy his most memorable.

"That was the biggest game I ever played in high school,'' Schnabel said. "It was an incredible feeling. We'll be hanging a banner soon.''

It wasn't the first time he came up with a big late-game goal. There was his header with two minutes left that prevented a 0-0 tie with Sacred Heart Cathedral.

And in the CCS quarterfinals, Serra trailed 2-1 at halftime against Willow Glen before Schnabel scored two second-half goals as the Padres pulled out a 4-2 victory.

"He's got amazing ability with the ball to create space,'' Serra coach Jeff Panos said. "He knows how to find the smallest of openings and to put the ball in the net with great velocity.''

Schnabel was brought up to the varsity for the playoffs as a freshman and then started the next three years. He had 51 goals for his career.

"He's very humble and incredibly hard working,'' Panos said. "He has vision for how the game unfolds before it does and even as a freshman and sophomore had the ability to be very crafty with the ball.''

Schnabel carries a weighted GPA of over 4.0 and has been accepted into a number of top colleges.

But he said this senior season at Serra is it for him in soccer.

"I'm going to be an engineering major, and I want the chance for the full college experience,'' he said.

All-Mercury News boys soccer
First team
Forward: Juan Carlos Bugarin, senior, Overfelt
Forward: Brad Bumgarner, senior, Mountain View
Forward: Andres Jimenez, junior, Gilroy
Forward: Nick Schnabel, senior, Serra
Midfielder: Adrian Eaton, senior, Burlingame
Midfielder: Eric Espinoza, senior, Archbishop Mitty
Midfielder: Andrew Frias, senior, Leigh
Defender: Christian Aldama, senior, Bellarmine
Defender: Arturo Meza, junior, Half Moon Bay
Defender: Alec Prusa, senior, St. Francis
Goalkeeper: Stefan Skoff, junior, Westmont
Second team
Forward: Anthony Arduengo, senior, Andrew Hill
Forward: Zack Penner, junior, Half Moon Bay
Forward: Jonah Snyder, senior, Burlingame
Midfielder: Theo Fedronic, senior, Carlmont
Midfielder: William Foxcroft, junior, Archbishop Mitty
Midfielder: Glenn Gomez, senior, Willow Glen
Midfielder: Patrick Philpott, senior, Serra
Defender: Elliott Jobson, senior, Bellarmine
Defender: Jeff Powers, senior, Branham
Defender: Cesar Rodriguez, senior, Mt. Pleasant
Goalkeeper: Logan Chapman, senior, Los Gatos
Coach of the Year
Jeff Turgeon, Half Moon Bay

Digital Extra Soccer Honorable Mention
For players selected to the All-Mercury News boys and girls soccer honorable mention lists, visit
mercurynews.com/high-school-sports